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Slingbox -- my experience after one weekend
Old 02-05-2015, 12:31 PM   #1
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Slingbox -- my experience after one weekend

I thought I would share my current experiment with Slingbox, in case anyone is thinking of giving it a try. (Note this is not SlingTV – that is a different thread).

Slingbox is a device that uploads television the Internet, to be captured for use by a different device. Once you buy the necessary equipment there is no additional cost. I am interested in using Slingbox to provide us with “cable TV” at our weekend home in the mountains. We currently pay $100/month for cable and internet at the mountain house, and while we can afford it, it sort of bugs me every time I write the check.

My setup: Fios cable and internet (75 Mbs download / upload) at home. HD box/DVR combo attached to our primary TV, within easy reach of the router. Out cable box is one of those “always on” models. It’s only DH and I, so if we are in the mountains there is no one at home. At the mountain house, I have internet service (15 Mbs download) / wifi and a Roku.

I purchased a Slingbox 350 on sale (~$70) through Amazon. It is connected to the home cable/DVR with component video, in parallel with the TV (which is using the HDMI output from the cable box). The Slingbox is connected to the router with an Ethernet cable. There was an initial account setup necessary with a computer and slingdotcom. At the mountains, I had to install the Slingbox channel on the Roku (free). I also needed to get the Slingbox iPad app ($15, good only for iPad. If I want the app on my iPhone it will be another $15).

To watch at the mountain house, we turn on the TV, select the Slingbox station on Roku, and open the Slingbox app on the iPad. It takes a few seconds for the app to connect to the Slingbox, and the content shows on the iPad until you select on option to send it to Roku. To change channels you use the iPad. The response is a little slow – like ~5-7 seconds to change the channel. You also use the iPad to navigate to your DVR content (we were able to watch a show that had been recorded to our DVR).

Last weekend was our initial use of the Slingbox at the mountain house. I was worried about two potential drawbacks: DH’s ability (or lack of) to understand the steps needed to watch TV; and bandwidth issues. In the first case, DH seemed to get the hang of it by Sunday afternoon. On the bandwidth issue, we had buffering problems twice. Friday evening and Saturday evening, I suspect during peak use time, our picture froze. Once I had to restart the connection, the second time it resolved itself in about 20 seconds. We had no streaming issues other than those two instances. There was a bonus that I hadn't considered – our cable service at the mountain house has always been standard tv – I don’t pay for HDTV up there. But we have HD at home, and since we were watching our home cable we got HD. That little flat screen tv at the mountain house never looked so good!

Assuming we continue having a good experience with the Slingbox over the next month or so, I will be cancelling our TV service up there and switching to internet only. That should save me at least $40 per month. I’ll make back my outlay for equipment and apps in less than three months.
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Old 02-05-2015, 01:07 PM   #2
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...another "cool" feature is you can "share" with 1 other person. I have a friend - another die hard Patriots fan - in TX ... he watched the games all season from my Sling box (while I watched).

He has a TON of pay channels ... so I get them from his Slingbox.

Note only one person can watch remotely to one Sling box.
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Old 02-05-2015, 01:12 PM   #3
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We have the same kind of setup with a Vulkano device, including DVR features. We just use an Android app or laptop player hooked up to the TV/monitor. We can then watch (or record then watch) our cable TV programs when we visit our kids, and they can watch a few events when we're home.


The streaming results are dependent on how good the internet connection is between the two locations. Sometimes that can be spotty, even with 10 Mbps up and 20 Mbps down we might get only 1 Mbps streaming. However if we download the recordings the quality is consistently good. We're limited to one stream at a time outside the house, which can require some coordination if we all want to watch at the same time.


On the whole it's been a worthwhile purchase.
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Old 02-05-2015, 02:12 PM   #4
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Thanks for posting! I'm considering getting a slingbox for our condo to be able to watch tv from our house(and get rid of the basic cable I have at the condo).

In the mean time, I'm using Apple Tv and NHL Gamecenter. Apple TV is flawless, but I'm getting a little choppiness on the hockey games.
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Old 02-05-2015, 02:31 PM   #5
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We've had good luck with it. Bought it so DW could watch her DVR recordings on the road with her tablet.

My nephew, a fervent LBYM engineer, uses it to avoid paying for cable sports channels--instead he pulls them off of his parents' TV in a different state.
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Old 02-05-2015, 02:48 PM   #6
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I've had a Slingbox for many years and it works as advertised. I have the upgraded player on my iPad and the quality is quite good. I had to use a powerline Ethernet bridge to connect my DVR in my family room to my router in my office. It supports sufficient data rate for more than decent viewing on mobile devices.


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Old 02-05-2015, 03:18 PM   #7
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I have sling box as a part of Dish Net. The problem we have is internet upload speed. Our internet is DSL. We have respectable download speed of about 12.5 MIPS. however, upload speed is around .75 MIPS. Therefore the outbound speed of the sling is slow, and when we use it it often freezes.
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Old 02-05-2015, 03:22 PM   #8
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My friend has Slingbox at home and Slingcatcher at his lakehouse. The video quality is poor (SD or worse), we suspect because of bandwidth issues at the lakehouse.

I have Dish at home and am using Dish Anywhere powered by Sling at our rental unit in Florida. Sometimes it works very well and sometimes, not so well. Video quality is ok to good, depending on the day.
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Old 02-05-2015, 04:37 PM   #9
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Thanks for posting this, Philliefan. It's worth looking into for our family summer house - it's only used 4-5 months a year and it's very annoying to pay for the cable TV year long. They used to permit winter disconnects but now charge a fortune to reconnect.
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Old 02-05-2015, 04:49 PM   #10
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Wait just a minute....are you saying if I hook a Slingbox up to my current TV / DirecTV setup at home that I can stream live TV and / or any of my recorded programs to my iPad or laptop anywhere that I have an internet connection?
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Old 02-05-2015, 04:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
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Wait just a minute....are you saying if I hook a Slingbox up to my current TV / DirecTV setup at home that I can stream live TV and / or any of my recorded programs to my iPad or laptop anywhere that I have an internet connection?
Yep. Unless Apple has some type of proprietary bar. But, given that it even works on the DW's bollixed-up Kindle Fire (that's redundant!), you shouldn't have a problem.
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Old 02-05-2015, 05:35 PM   #12
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Another Vulkano user here. It is great when you travel, especially abroad. It has worked very well for several years now.


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Old 02-05-2015, 06:38 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Wait just a minute....are you saying if I hook a Slingbox up to my current TV / DirecTV setup at home that I can stream live TV and / or any of my recorded programs to my iPad or laptop anywhere that I have an internet connection?
Sure.

I don't have a sling box, but our TiVo setup allows this too. For live TV it's streaming the just recorded live stuff - "live" enough for me.

You do need a reasonable internet connection at home with a decent upstream speed for this to work well.
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Old 02-05-2015, 07:12 PM   #14
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How about a consultant franchise... "Guaranteed Savings $500/year".

Up front $500 charge to set up an alternate streaming service... Roku, Apple,
Chromecast, Plex, Slingbox, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, DVR, Play Station, OTA or any combination thereof, along with best lowest price choice internet. Save $500/yr, or no charge.

Has this already been done?
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Old 02-05-2015, 07:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imoldernu View Post
How about a consultant franchise... "Guaranteed Savings $500/year".



Up front $500 charge to set up an alternate streaming service... Roku, Apple,

Chromecast, Plex, Slingbox, Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, DVR, Play Station, OTA or any combination thereof, along with best lowest price choice internet. Save $500/yr, or no charge.



Has this already been done?

Sounds like something the Geek Squad would do. But they would probably charge more. My parents paid almost a grand for the Geek Squad to set up their home entertainment system . I wish dad would have asked me to do it instead. But they live four hours away and he didn't want to be a bother.
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Old 02-05-2015, 09:02 PM   #16
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Thanks for posting this, Philliefan. It's worth looking into for our family summer house - it's only used 4-5 months a year and it's very annoying to pay for the cable TV year long. They used to permit winter disconnects but now charge a fortune to reconnect.
What we did with our summer home is we dumped cable and got Dish. With a new install we got 4 tvs. Three were at home and one was at our summer home so it was just one bill. I had to pay the installer extra for the extra Dish and the extra install but it was well worth it to only have one tv bill rather than two.

Then when we rebuilt our summer home and made it our main home we did the inverse. We got a new install (under DW's name, which is her maiden name hyphenated with my surname) with 3 tvs at the new home and 1 tv at our main home. When we sold the main home we dropped the one tv.

I think this set up is even better than Dish & Dish Anywhere, but you need to be able to get Dish satellite service at both locations.
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Old 02-05-2015, 09:36 PM   #17
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I got Vulkano too. Also have Tivo but I don't think it streams as well outside the home. Plus any premium channel recordings can't be streamed outside the home.

Vulkano was about half the price of the Sling when I got it a couple of years ago.

I missed out on the Sling sale at Amazon (is there some kind of email notifications of those sales?).
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